The South West TUC and Business West welcomed the latest announcement from the government to help tackle the current economic and jobs crisis in the West of England.
The TUC and British Chambers of Commerce have been in direct talks with the Chancellor this week, to convey the size of the economic challenge facing workers and firms in the region – and the need for scale, ambition and pace in tackling this emergency.
Our region’s two leading business and union organisations are committed to working together with all public bodies in their efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the West of England economy.
Our shared priority is protecting economic networks in the West of England while this crisis is ongoing. That means doing whatever it takes to keep businesses going and making sure that workers have jobs to go back to once the coronavirus is under control.
We welcome the measures that the government has announced in recent days to support businesses. It is vital now that the details of all announced schemes are clarified and communicated to those businesses who can benefit.
We know that businesses face immediate and difficult decisions about retention and support of staff and so would call for financial bridging support to be in place by the end of the week to protect jobs.
We also want to see an ambitious package of economic support including for workers. We have asked for this to include:
• Providing wage subsidies for short-time working and temporary layoffs following models that have been introduced across Europe and in other advanced economies.
• An immediate increase in social security payments and urgent measures to allow immediate access for new claimants for the duration of the crisis.
• Fully-funded measures to protect parents’ income during the period of school closures.
• Direct support through HMRC for the self-employed.
• A regional economic task force between the public and private sectors to enable us deal with this crisis as it unfold and rebuild our economy.
While the scale of the economic challenge is enormous, we believe that the long-standing commitment of employers, trade unions and government to working constructively in social and economic partnership can help to provide effective support to businesses and individuals across the country.
After central government leadership, we now need co-ordinated action at the regional level to support workers and businesses to access support rapidly, Until now, we have witnessed a fragmented and inconsistent response across the region which is just too slow, but businesses and unions working together are doing what they can to assist the economy and our people at this time.
Business West with the support of South West TUC has set up an internal task force and created www.tradingthroughcoronavirus.co.uk a platform sharing practical advice and support, answer queries where it can, signpost where it can’t and helping understand the specific issues impacting on your business so they can best feedback quickly to politicians and officials at a national, city region and local level.